Don’t put your faith in football

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As chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Omar Beckles has a message that will shock many fans: “If you put all your trust and faith in football, there’s going to be no peace.”

And Beckles goes further on the ‘beautiful game’ that to millions of fans has religious parallels, saying God is the best teammate of all.

The 32-year-old Leyton Orient defender (pictured above, speaking to students about mental health), who also played for Millwall, Crewe and Shrewsbury, told Sorted Magazine: “Within football, there’s so many emotions: you win, you lose.  

“My faith allows me a level of peace to not sway with the wind of emotion and just be more at peace.

“I think it actually empowers me to give my best, not just to a manager or fans or teammates that can actually disappoint me, because I can serve a God who’s always there, never leaves me, never forsakes me, and allows me to apply myself and give my best to glorify him.” 

It wasn’t always that way, however. Despite being born into a Christian family, Beckles “attended church because I had to, not because I wanted to”. He “knew of God, but didn’t have my own intimate personal relationship with him”, describing it as “second-hand faith”. 

His game, in a roundabout way, was about to fix that.

“Football was my idol and it wasn’t a secure foundation. I was pursuing it and I was disappointed. 

“But when football disappointed me through the setbacks, I started to ask some really piercing questions.”

God answered, and he started “growing in understanding in my faith” and “holding God to his word”. 

He explained: “I tried to read the Bible myself, to pray for myself, and I encountered God and I’ve never looked back since then.”


Now he’s active about sharing the gospel.

“Being unapologetic about your faith helps. I’ve always been quite explicit and would always mention to the lads that I was going to church on Sunday. I never shied away from that and I think you’d be surprised how accepting people have been. 

“So I just do my best to be in the world, not of it, and try to be set apart, but just be really open to this gift that I’ve found and be able to share that gift without pushing it in anyone’s face.

“I just try my best to live with the level of integrity which has always been important to me, and sharing the good news. It is good news at the end of the day, and I don’t want to just keep that to myself.”

It’s helped him with his PFA work, too.

“Being a Christian helps me on the pitch, off the pitch and in my role in the PFA. Ultimately, it’s that role of being a servant.

“Jesus came to serve, not to be served. It’s vital we assume that role of servant.

“As chair of the PFA, this is me being a vessel with an opportunity to serve my members and give them the support they need, because I think Jesus always met need.”

From New Life Newspaper issue 353

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